Back pain

Back painBack pain and lower back pain are most common in individuals. Almost every one of us get either or both at least once in our life time. Let us focus on these two issues to find out how we get it and how to manage it, if we can’t get rid of it. Even though the affected area and symptoms can be different, risk factors and managing the pain is pretty much the same.

Back Pain:

According to Healthy and Heartwise, the prevalence of back pain has increased significantly over the last two decades until it affects up to 70% of people at some point in their life.

While many of us experience back pain for a brief period, a significant number of us will experience intermittent symptoms for 12 months or longer. Out of that up to 30% will have major recurrence within 12 months.

Contrary to popular belief, back pain does not increase in old age and generally, most individual recover and resume normal daily activities.

Lower Back Pain:

It’s just a little nagging pain on the lower back. It could be a twinge, or a dull, constant ache, yet leaves the individual suffering or incapacitated.

Lower back pain is the sixth most common reason for visiting a general practice and the most common type of chronic pain. It is estimated that between 70-80% if adults will experience an episode of back pain at some time in their lives.

The cause of lower back pain:

the back is an intricate structure of bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. back pain can arise from soft tissues, bony parts of the back and joints holding the spine in alignment. Low back pain is an  ailment with almost indefinite causes. The most common mechanical cause of back pain is intervertebral disc degeneration, when the discs located between the vertebrae of the spine break down with age. Injury from sprains and strains, and some medical conditions (such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis) can also cause back pain.

Risk factors:

One or more of the following common risk factors can cause lower back pain/back pain

Managing lower back pain/back pain

Regularly changing postures and gradually ‘pacing up’ daily activity despite persistent symptoms are key management strategies for managing back pain. It can be quite challenging due to anxiety and fear of increased pain but understanding that pain does not necessarily mean tissue damage, harm or injury helps develop confidence to move.

Pain will be associated with the normal part of recovery, but understanding the level of pain as acceptable/non acceptable range is the key to move forward or take a step back in the level of movement.

Acceptable level – Manageable pain during activity and reduces after ceasing that activity. If that the case it is ok to continue with that specific activity.

Non acceptable level – Pain continues to increase during activity, does not level off, spreads through the limbs and remains elevated after stopping.  If this happens stop, take a break and consider attempting it another time.

Acute lower back pain usually gets better on its own without treatment, or responds well to medication. However it can tend towards recurrent relapse if not managed properly. Chronic back pain represents one of the most common causes of disability across all age groups. The key to managing lower back pain is to maintain function and movement, and to prevent recurrence. Severe, unusual recurrent back pains should be investigated by a health care professional for serious pathology underlying lower back pain.

Conventional medicines such as analgesics, NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for symptomatic relief. Nutritional supplements and alternative therapies offer effective adjunct treatment options. The following are a few simple tips to help you manage chronic pains.

Natural Analesia – some nutrients are commonly used for the relief of chronic pain associated with arthritis and lower back pain.

Glucosomine sulphate is an effective agent in decreasing joint stiffness, reducing symptoms of pain and joint inflammation, and improving joint mobility in people with osteoarthritis, and may be beneficial for back problems associated with osteoarthritis.

Omega-3 EFAs from fish oil have anti-inflammatory properties. Regular intake of a fish oil supplement has been shown to reduce swelling and joint pains, and improve morning stiffness and joint tenderness

Nutrients for strong bones and muscle strength

Vitamin D deficiency has been reported in patients with lower back pain. Vitamin D supplementation aids in the absorption of calcium and in the maintenance of strong bones, and may provide protection against osteoporosis.

Calcium is critical to bone health. Calcium supplements help to attain peak bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.

Magnesium deficiency is very common. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating muscle activity. A magnesium supplement is often used to help reduce muscle spasm and pain.

Active recovery – Light exercise twice a week such as walking, aerobics and light-weight lifting can reduce symptoms of chronic pain, and improve bone density in the lower back.

Stress-free – Pain is more than a physical sensation, anxiety and fear can increase pain intensity. Reducing anxiety and depression is a priority in management of chronic pain. Try meditation, yoga or relaxation techniques.

Alternative therapies – Physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic and osteopathy may aid the healing process. Talk to your health care professional about these treatment options.

Source: Health Essentials issue 3

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